The TikTok logo may seem pretty simple, but there’s more to it than you might think. And while TikTok is the youngest of the social media giants, the TikTok logo has already undergone a few tweaks to come up with a punchy design that fits the TikTok vibe perfectly.
So what does the TikTok logo mean and why does it work so well? Below, we take a closer look at the evolution of the TikTok logo since its creation in 2016, as well as the meaning behind the design. For more logo inspiration, don’t miss our piece on the history of the YouTube logo. If you want to create your own designs, check out our logo design tips.
The history of the TikTok logo
TikTok was quite a unique social media platform when it hit the market in 2017. The micro video format clicked with a younger generation that wanted to do more than just share images of their dinner on social media – a generation that wanted to perform. As a result, the app quickly gained a following. But the TikTok logo actually predates the existence of TikTok as a brand.
It all started in 2016, when the Chinese company ByteDance launched an app called A.me. Soon the app was renamed Douyin, which means something like ‘vibrating sound’. What we know as the TikTok logo was actually created for this Chinese app, which is why it contains a musical note that appears to vibrate and also resembles a letter D.
The inspiration for the TikTok logo
While using a music note might seem a bit misleading considering TikTok is a video-based social media app rather than a music streaming service, it fits Douyin’s name and also makes sense considering that one of its main specialties of the app, at least initially, was lip syncing videos. It was the ability to add music and reuse sound from other videos on the platform that really helped the app take off.
The company itself says it wants a logo that “speaked to the stage that TikTok had created for so many talented people”. The result was “designed to inspire creativity and bring joy to fans and creators around the world”. Aww.
The designer, who does not name TikTok, apparently “chose the color black as the background of the logo to get users excited about the achievements behind the app.” Reasonable. Black also has the advantage of being different from the colors of one of the major established social media platforms, and perhaps even felt a bit rebellious. The cyan and fuchsia shadows were apparently inspired by the designer’s observation of the contrast between the dark background and lighting effects at live music concerts.
The first TikTok logo
In 2017, ByteDance started its app outside of China as a separate app called TikTok after purchasing Musical.ly, a short video app based in Shanghai that already had a user base in the US. But it kept the same logo it used for its Chinese product, after all, a musical note has the advantage of being a universal symbol rather than being limited to a particular culture or language, so there was no problem that the logo didn’t work in the west.
The TikTok name was included below the logo, initially spelled as two words in a simple sans-serif font with square corners.
The TikTok logo today
By the end of 2018, TikTok had grown to 271 million users (it has since passed the one billion mark). It was then that the brand decided to spend a little more time finding the right font for the logo and created the TikTok wordmark that is still in use today. In the original logo, the text felt like an afterthought, haphazardly slung under the mark, which it probably was.
In the redesign, the text was made to look much more aesthetically connected to the glyph, with heavier lettering, and the space between TikTok was removed. A cyan and fuchsia shadow effect was added to the “O” to mirror to reinforce the connection and create a more cohesive whole.
Why the TikTok logo works
For most TikTok users, the resemblance of the TikTok logo to a ‘D’ and the representation of the meaning of ‘Douyin’ is irrelevant as they are not aware of the history of the TikTok logo and even of the existence of the Chinese app. Still, the logo seems to work perfectly, despite apparently being created in-house by an unnamed designer rather than a branding agency.
It does this because, perhaps unknowingly, the designer was using classic rules of logo design and color theory. The design is simple, clean and easy to interpret and remember. Meanwhile, black and white are bold, distinctly contrasting colors, while cyan and fuchsia, close to magenta, are complementary colors that create dynamic accents around the edge of the logo, adding depth and making the 2D design appear more 3D through the evocation of anaglyph 3D images.
Want to improve your own TikTok videos? One of the best ring lights can make a big difference when it comes to getting the right lighting.